Bennett heckled and hailed at Western Wall

Bayit Yehudi leader in pre-election Kotel visit remarks on historical significance of site; Tibi files complaint against Gimpel.

January 21, 2013 21:57
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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Bayit Yehudi party head Naftali Bennett was both hailed and heckled as he made a brief pre-election visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday afternoon.

“You’re my hero,” yelled out one woman.

Another screamed out: “17 mandates!” But not everyone was so enthusiastic.

“Criminal,” yelled out one tall young man sporting a black hat and beard.

“I love you, my brother,” Bennett yelled back.

But the young man followed him, as Bennett walked quickly through the outer stone plaza toward the Kotel’s tunnel, surrounded by a gaggle of reporters, photographers, security guards and police.

This was not a hand-shaking press stop. Idle observers, even supportive ones, were hard pressed to reach him. Still the young haredi man persisted.

“What you are you doing here when you don’t want us to study Torah?” he yelled out, referencing the party’s support for drafting haredi men into national service.

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“I would rather die or go to jail than stop studying Torah, “ the man yelled.

“My mother is crying at night,” he shouted again, as police pushed him back in the crowd.

Police later said they detained a youth in the Western Wall Plaza on Monday afternoon who called out obscene remarks against Bennett.

Once he reached the Western Wall, Bennett tucked his own personal note into the cracks of the Kotel’s stones. On the way back to his car, he paused for a moment to make a statement to the media.

“Two thousand years ago we had a home here, a Jewish state and we lost it because of internal fights and rows,” he said. “Today we are embarking on a wonderful journey to unite all the parts of Israel – religious, secular, haredi – all of us together. I pray to God to give me the power to unite all of Israel and to restore Israel’s Jewish soul. Amen.”

As he drove away from the Western Wall, one supporter banged on the trunk and said, “the next prime minister!” Separately, MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) filed a complaint of incitement to police on Monday night against Bayit Yehudi party member Jeremy Gimpel, who is 14th on its Knesset list.

Tibi’s complaint came several days after a video from 2011 came to light, in which Gimpel described a theoretical situation in which the Dome of the Rock was “blown up” and the cornerstone of the Third Temple was laid as “incredible.”

“Gimpel’s statements plant seeds of dispute and incite to violence, and steps must be taken against him,” Tibi stated.

Gimpel and the Bayit Yehudi declined to officially comment, but Jeremy Saltan, the party’s English-speaking campaign manager, tweeted: “Tibi just gave the Bayit Yehudi another seat.”

Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.

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